Some unlikely friends arrived in town via tugboat on short notice a couple of weeks ago, at the height of RBC Heritage week activities.
I was quite busy, but was willing to change plans in order to meet up with them. As it turned out, they changed plans in order to meet up with us – and by “us” I mean a couple of local friends that we share.
I say they are “unlikely” friends, because it was an unlikely series of random circumstances that led to our meeting when they visited for the first time two years ago. Back then, they lived and traveled in a motor home.
If you read this column regularly, you might recall these friends, Tim Bauerschmidt and Ramie Liddle, and their dog Ringo, because I’ve written about them twice. We met when they brought Tim’s mom, known as Miss Norma (look her up), to Hilton Head Island in March 2016.
That was when they got in touch with my friend Charlie to ask about a place to watch the St. Patrick’s Day Parade from a wheelchair. She called me because she knew I was on the parade committee.
Long story short, Miss Norma ended up riding in the parade with Tim and Ringo. Ramie took photos – one of which ended up in their book that was published the next year.
A couple of days after the parade, Charlie called and invited me to a tree-planting in Bluffton’s Dubois Park. Another friend, Mayor Lisa Sulka, had also met the group just before the parade and invited them to come see “her” town.
After we planted the tree, we all went out for a happy hour that turned into dinner. These folks were so authentic and comfortable and fun that we couldn’t get enough of them. We became instant friends.
We all hugged as we said goodbye, and Tim said, “I have a feeling our paths will cross again.”
And they did.
The following year, in May 2017, they came through town on a book tour. Miss Norma had died six months after their previous visit, and their book about their travels had been published. They were going back through some of their favorite towns that they had enjoyed.
We all met up again – the travelers, Charlie, Lisa and I. We enjoyed our time together, reminiscing and listening to Miss Norma stories.
Again, we had to say goodbye to our nomad friends as they continued their journey around the country.
Last summer, they decided to take a different route – completely different. They heard about America’s Great Loop (look this up too), fell in love with a tugboat, and began their voyage to see part of America from a different perspective.
As unlikely as it sounds, the path of the Loop passes by Hilton Head Island. So they stopped in for a visit.
This time, they brought along another friend, Mike, who they had met along the way on his sailboat. A similar spirit, Mike too became another unlikely friend. He fit right into our shared friendship, as if we had known him for years.
We had drinks in Bluffton, dinner at Charlie’s house and a fire pit at mine, and “docktails” on the boat, as if this were our regular “thing.”
If it wasn’t before, it might become a thing, even if it’s just us locals. You see, our shared friendship has allowed us to get to know one another better – all because we became friends with some unlikely folks.